24 Nov 2020

Covid-19's impact on employment of casual workers

11:44 am on 24 November 2020

Casual workers are being hired and fired more frequently in the wake of Covid-19.

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The report showed the number of new permanent contracts shrank by 12 points to 67 percent. Photo: 123rf

A report from the human resources platform, MyHR, shows casual and fixed-term contracts made up a third of all new hires between March and October, compared with just 20 percent a year ago.

It also found that these workers were losing their jobs more often, accounting for a quarter of all departures, compared with 19 percent last year.

MyHR head of advisory, Sylvie Thrush Marsh, said the increase in flexible contracts had been driven by two factors.

"The first is the reduced trade and revenue for a lot of businesses over the last eight months as result of the Covid-19 restrictions, so businesses are looking to increase their flexible workforces.

"Also, we are all as an economy not really sure about what's coming in the next year, so businesses are keen to keep the flexibility they now have ... so they can accommodate any future lockdowns or future trading restrictions like the ones we saw this year."

The report showed the number of new permanent contracts shrank by 12 points to 67 percent, but Thrush Marsh said that did not mean full-time staff were being fired for casual workers.

"Permanent employees are actually having their employment ended less frequently, so it's certainly not the case that permanent employees are being fired or made redundant and replaced with casual or fixed-term employees, but any new job that potentially would have gone to permanent are at some level being diverted to casual and fixed-term arrangements at the moment."

Thrush Marsh said she expected casual and fixed-term hiring to drop to levels seen in previous years once firms could return to pre-Covid-19 trading.

The hospitality industry saw the steepest increase in casual contracts, while the public sector recorded the largest increase in fixed-term contracts.